apples at the orchard tour in Kent

We’d been to Brogdale Farm, Kent, for some of their summer events and had a train ride around the Orchard with the children when they were younger, but we’d never been on a guided Orchard Tour before.

I am a great lover of apples and part of the tour is tasting lots of different varieties of them, so this was a perfect idea for a day out.

My mother-in-law, Irene, and I put on our walking boots and headed over to Faversham to go and taste some lovely apples and find out more about this fabulous farm.

apples in crates at Brogdale Farm

Where is Brogdale Farm?

Brogdale Farm is on the outskirts of Faversham. It’s really well sign posted as you drive along London Road in Faversham

Brogdale Farm entrance

Brogdale Farm

Brogdale Farm is set on 150 acres of farmland. It is home to the National Fruit Collection and has over 4,000 varieties of fruit trees.

It’s also home to lots of local businesses including a craft shop, a chocolate shop and a fantastic restaurant which has indoor and outside seating. 

There’s loads of free parking and a children’s play park. It also has on site meeting rooms which are available to hire and is a perfect wedding venue. 

view from hedge

You can buy an Orchard Pass and take a guided tour around the orchards or walk around under your own steam with an orchard map.

Brogdale Collections

The National Fruit Collection is run by the Brogdale Collections charity. It provides access and education to the public about their 4,000 varieties of fruit trees including apples, pears, plums and cherries to name a few. These orchards are a living history of fruit. 

They also provide a fruit identification service and offer many different courses including fruit tree grafting and pruning, foraging and cider making.

apples on the trees

The Orchard Pass

In order to book a guided orchard tour or do a self guided walk you will need to purchase an Orchard Pass. 

You can purchase these from the office at Brogdale or online. An adult pass is £13.50 (or £12 if you are a senior citizen or student) and £6 for a child. They also do family tickets.

The pass is for a year and allows you access to the orchard all year around. The tours run from April- October, three times a day and are fascinating. 

We had a fantastic, expert guide who took us all around and through the orchards explaining the history of the fruits and letting us taste a few of the 2,000 varieties of apples that they grow.

It really was a fantastic experience and very much enjoyed. We loved learning about how the Romans introduced us to apples and other fruits and vegetables.

trees in the orchard

The Best Seasons for Visits

April through May to see the stunning blossoms
July for cherries
August for plums
September for apples, pears and nuts
October for apples, pears, quince and medlars
November – December for Windfall Apples

Trees with skirts

Apples

Brogdale Farm has over 2,000 different varieties of apples in its orchard and they come from all over the world.

They all taste different and can be sweet, sharp, aromatic, juicy, crispy or soft and creamy. All the trees are labeled with the different varieties so that you can see which apple tree is which.

apple orchard

Some of the different varieties include Falstaff, Duck’s Bill, Fantazja, Cornish Pine, John Standish, Jersey Beauty, Chorister Boy, Bow Hill Pippin, Jaszvadoka, Jansen Von Welten, Mclellan, Iduna, Jafra, Scotia and Washington Seedling. 

The harvest season for apples is from late July until the end of October depending on the variety of apple tree. 

apples in a crate

Apples have many health benefits as well as being extremely tasty. They are full of nutrients, and high in fibre and water which is especially good if you are watching your dieting, as it means they are very filling.

They are also considered to be a prebiotic as they contain pectin which is very good for your gut health.

Did you know Brogdale apple seeds have been up in space? Newton apple seeds from the orchards were sent up as part of the Apollo 10 mission in 1969!

Pears

There are over 500 different varieties of pears in the orchard. They too have come from all around the world. The harvest season for pears is from September to late October.

Pears are full of fibre and are high in vitamins C and K and potassium and antioxidants. They are also apparently very good for your gut. 

apples ready for harvest

Cherries

There are 360 different varieties of cherries at Brogdale from all over Europe. They were introduced to us by the Greeks and Romans. The harvest season for cherries is from the middle of June to the end of July.

Cherries are a great fruit health wise. They too are full of nutrients, fibre, vitamins and minerals. 

They are also full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. They are said to be great for muscle pain, inflammation and may reduce symptoms of arthritis and gout.

Cherry trees

They are also supposed to be good for helping you to sleep, as they contain melatonin.

Plums

There are 332 different varieties of plums at Brogdale Farm from Europe, USA and Canada. They were apparently very popular with the Victorians who helped to grow many different varieties. They are harvested from the end of Juy to the end of September. 

Plums are full of antioxidants and fibre. They are also said to be good for anxiety and contain potassium.

Plum Trees

Quince

Quince is a strange fruit that looks a little like a pear. It’s hard if eaten raw so its usually used to make marmalade, jam or alcohol.

It’s very low in calories and is full of fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It’s also rich in vitamin C and is a good source of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and copper. 

There are 19 different varieties grown at Brogdale and they are harvested in October.

Nuts

Hazelnuts and Cobnuts are popular favourites. There are 48 different varieties grown at Brogdale. 

The hazelnut comes from the hazel tree. They can be used in baking and puddings, sweets and chocolate and are used to make praline.

Praline is mixed with chocolate to make truffles and spreads like Nutella and some liqueurs. You can also make oil from hazelnuts which can be used for cooking. 

A cobnut is a cultivated hazelnut and these can be eaten raw or with some salt. They are delicious roasted and can be chopped or ground to make meringues, pasta, cakes and cake toppings.  

red trees

Medlars

The Medlar fruit is related to apples and quinces. They are packed full of vitamins and are normally eaten when over ripe and soft. 

They date back to Roman times and are usually picked in the winter months. They are great in jellies and chutneys or in puddings. 

in the orchard

The History of Fruit in England

We have the Romans to thank for some of our lovely fruit. They introduced over 50 new kinds of fruit and nut plants. These included grapes, figs, apples, pears, cherries, plums, damson, mulberry, olives, dates and nuts, including walnuts, chestnuts, lentils, pine nuts and almonds.

Herbs include black mustard, rosemary, coriander, dill, thyme, garlic, black mustard, bay, basil and mint all of which were used for medicinal and tea purposes.

Vegetables included carrots, cucumber, celery, fennel, beets, onions, shallots, leeks, cabbage, peas, turnips, radishes and asparagus

Courses at Brogdale

They also do some amazing courses at Brogdale which include: 

Foraging Walks
Gardening
Grafting
Willow Weaving
Beekeeping
Elderflower Cordial
Orchard Design
Cider Making
Chicken Keeping
Winter Pruning
Bug Hunting

Shops and Units at Brogdale

There are many different independent shops and businesses at Brogdale Farm. These include:

Absolute Photography
Age UK
Brogdale Collections
Brother Cycles
Clarke’s Gas Services
Country Practice
Fast LLP
Faversham Miniature Railway
Grow at Brogdale
Hawden MEP Ltd
Kakawa Artisan Chocolate
Kingswood Lush Puppies of Faversham
Mad Cat Brewery
Scott Anderson
Tania Paige’s Craft Place
The Courtyard at Brogdale
Tiddly Pomme
Vicki Lord Hair

Tania Paige’s Craft Place

Craft shop

Tania Paige is a textile designer and artist who has her own shop at Brogdale Farm, selling and making beautifully crafted items and paintings.

She also runs courses and textile based craft workshops. You can book in to do block printing on fabric, screen printing, heat transfer, silk painting, abstract art, tie dying, scrapbooking, quilting or sewing to name just a few.

Courses start from £4 – £30. 

We booked in for lino cutting and printing course and spent the morning cutting our own designs into lino stamps and then printed our designs onto tote bags.

It was great fun and Tania was so kind, thoughtful and patient. It’s such a lovely place for crafting as it’s so light, bright and airy and there’s plenty of room for everyone.

We had such a great time that we booked in to go back a few weeks later for another craft session.

There are art clubs and parties for those of all ages.  You can also get T-Shirts and caps printed with your own artwork, photos or slogan. 

To create your own booking check out Tania Paige Designs.

Kakawa Artisan Chocolate

Kakawa Artisan Chocolate features beautiful handmade chocolates made at Brogdale with so many different toppings that it’s difficult to choose. In the end I chose the three limited editions.

The Dinocorn, a milk chocolate bar with dinosaur and unicorn decorations with mallows, caramel and sugar strands. This bar was designed by Tyler from Sittingbourne who is 6. He won a competition to design a chocolate bar. I also got a hazel and honeycomb milk chocolate bar with a beautiful hand drawn design by Rob Turner on its wrapper, and brownie and marshmallow milk chocolate bar with a cover design by Sarah Bucket. I also got a fruit and nut bar which is my favourite. 

Kakawa chocolates

All the wrappers on these bars are recyclable, and proceeds from these limited edition bars go to a charity for the Animate Arts Company who help to create art projects for schools and communities.

The chocolate is gorgeous and so creamy and very morrish. I love that it’s made locally and that Kakawa is helping to support their community. Their chocolate is made of the finest ingredients and they sell all sorts of designs and sizes from chocolate pizzas to 1kg showstopper bars.

You can also book courses and make your own chocolate bars at the shop in Brogdale. They do children’s courses at the weekend for £10 and luxury adult courses involving some bubbly while making and tasting chocolate bars and bon bons which sounds amazing.

Tiddly Pomme

You will find Tiddly Pomme at Brogdale Farm and they sell locally made produce including ciders, beers, wines, spirits, brogdale fruit juices and jams.

They also sell books, cards and gifts. We are totally addicted to their pear and cherry juices and eccles cakes which are delicious. 

You can also buy Brogdale cider in bottles or fresh from the barrel. The cider is made from apples and pears from the orchard. 30 different varieties of apples are used to make the cider which is named the Woolly Pig after the Mangalitsa pigs that used to live on the farm.

Grow at Brogdale

This is a fantastic garden nursery who sell potted trees, fruit trees, maidens and espaliers. They have lots of rare and heritage fruit trees that are grafts from the orchards at Brogdale.

They also stock perennials, roses, herbs and vegetable plants.

Lush Puppies of Faversham

This is a grooming parlour for dogs providing services for all sizes of dogs in a safe, relaxed and happy environment. 

Your dog can come in for a bath and blow dry, clipping and scissoring, nail clipping and ear cleaning.

Vicki Lord Hair

Vicki Lord is a celebrity hairdresser who often works within the TV industry. She is an award winning stylist who has a hair studio at Brogdale Farm

You can treat yourself to a hair cut, colour, style and braiding. 

She also runs courses and tutorials.

Mad Cat Brewery

Mad Cat Brewery is a microbrewery selling craft ales made using local hops. They supply pubs and outlets throughout north and east Kent. 

You can buy now buy their beer from their website.

Faversham Miniature Railway

ticket office Fashersham miniature railway

The miniature railway has been at Brogdale since 2001. It’s the only 9″ gauge railway in the UK open to the public. 

You sit in the little carriages and it takes you all the way through the orchards. It’s even got its own little station.

train signal on miniature railway

The train runs on a Sunday, bank holidays and during some of Brogdale’s events.

The Courtyard Restaurant

The restaurant at Brogdale is a family run business and is called the Courtyard Restaurant. It is open from 10am – 4pm from Tuesdays to Sundays (closed on Mondays).

They serve amazing, delicious homemade cakes, teas, coffees, snacks and meals. You can even enjoy a luxurious afternoon tea there. 

Their sausage and bacon sandwiches are legendary and you can have a full cooked breakfast or a Brogdale Mega Breakfast which looks amazing. 85% of their produce is sourced locally and only the finest cuts of meat and locally sourced vegetables are used. 

Sausage sandwich

The Weather Station

Brogdale is also home to the official MET office weather station which you will find at the top of the apple orchards. It helps to monitor climate conditions. It has been there for many years and has recorded some record breaking temperatures. 

sundial

Just by the weather station is a fully interactive weather station for all ages to learn all about the weather. There’s a stevenson screen, rain gauge, thermometer, hygrometer and hydrometer. There’s also a wind vane and two sundials, one of which is a human sundial which is great fun. 

Conclusion

Brogdale is such an amazing place to visit. It’s so much more than a farm. We really enjoyed our tour and everyone was so kind and helpful.

There is so much to do here in every season and we can’t wait to go back again in the spring to see the blossoms on the trees as we are told this is spectacular.

We loved the top class courtyard restaurant too as the food there is simply amazing, with great views of the farm.

There are so many little shops to look around, and lovely local produce to try. It really is a place for everyone and such a nice place to visit for all the family.

Apples in boxes

We’ve been back many times since our orchard tour and had breakfast in the restaurant and courses at Tania Paige’s Craft Place. We also went back to Tiddly Pomme to stock up on their amazing goodies.

I now know where to get my fresh ingredients too for my apple, pear and blueberry crumble recipe.

Brogdale Farm is a place I guarantee you will love. There is definitely something for everyone there.

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